Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Free as a bird?

Thanks for the good responses to this week's Musing on free will. When all is said and done, free will is a social construct, not a scientific hypothesis. Humans long ago discovered that living peaceably in groups required a notion of individual responsibility. Responsibility implies freedom. In contemporary society, it is the judicial system that ultimately decides to what extent our actions are "free." The defense "my genes made me do it" has been denied by the courts. Impaired mental competence stands. Both assertions of diminished responsibility are at root biochemical. Society negotiates responsibility. Science delves.